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A trip to Milan consists of more than just shopping, enjoying the culture and admiring the Duomo – sampling a plate of risotto is a must! The Milanese love their risotto. While in the vast majority of Italy pasta rules supreme, Northern Italy is best known for its rice dishes such as risotto. There are several restaurants that specialise entirely in this dish.
Risotto is the diminutive of 'riso', the Italian word for rice. In Milan they prepare the rice, the world's most popular grain, in a very special way. Risotto alla Milanese is cooked with saffron, lending the dish its rich yellow colour. There are many stories about the origin of the tradition, but one of them tells the story of a young servant who worked on the Duomo di Milano in 1574. He got into an argument with his boss and intended to ruin his boss’ upcoming wedding by colouring the rice with saffron. However, it became an unexpected (and lasting) success.
The Trattoria da Abele is well known for its risotto in Milan. This simple and traditional eatery serves a variety of risottos and other dishes every day. Choices range from the classic Risotto alla Milanese to more unique variations such as the risotto cuneese (with bacon and potatoes) and risotto con spinaci e scamorza (spinach and smoked cheese). In summer, the cooks play around with lighter ingredients, such as tiny wild strawberries. Desserts are another specialty, so be sure to leave some room!
Via Temperanza, 5, Milan
Trattoria Casa Fontana is a must for risotto lovers; this small restaurant uses top quality rice to prepare 23 different risotto dishes – these can be with meat or strictly vegetarian. This restaurant is usually pretty packed so reservations are recommended. Located in the suburbs of Milan, the restaurant requires some effort to get there.
Piazza Carbonari 5, Milan
Restaurant El Brellin serves outstanding traditional dishes such as risotto with zucchini flower, raw shrimp and purple potato slices, or a classic Milanese risotto with saffron and beef shank sauce. The restaurant has 2 floors and its walls are adorned with many small paintings; find a cosy spot by one of the fireplaces and enjoy your meal. If you wish to extend your evening after dinner, spend some time with a drink in the adjacent café that is part of El Brellin.
Alzaia Naviglio Grande 14, Milan